The Art of Small Talk

GK articleThe following article was featured in GQ on 11 July 2014:

Small talk. We all have to do it. We all dread that awkward silence when we’ve asked how he/she is and commented on the weather. High-profile figures are no less exempt: this weekend reports emerged of an awkward encounter between Samuel L Jackson and Victoria Beckham in the Royal Box at the Wimbledonfinal on Sunday, and the exchange between Djokovic and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following the match was painful to watch.

Conversation expert Rob Kendall is a man that has provided advice on how to improve interaction to businesses such as FTSE and AmEx, the offices of theLondon 2012 Olympics and the government. Here are his seven top tips on how to approach the potentially awkward interaction and ensure engaging conversation. Cambridges, take note.

Think of small talk as a mini conversation. It’s not about showing how clever or witty you are; it’s simply about making a connection and finding common ground.

Offer your undivided attention. Showing an interest makes people feel good.

Create opportunities for people to talk about themselves, since this is a subject they are expert on!

Ask open questions that invite elaboration rather than single word responses, so you don’t need to think up endless questions.

Finish with a compliment or a positive comment.

If all else fails, have an exit strategy up your sleeve.

Remember it doesn’t have to be about two people filling an awkward silence. Big things can come from small talk.

Blamestorming by Rob Kendall is released this October (Watkins Publishing, £8.99 PB). robkendall.co.uk

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